The first records of rowing in Grand Rapids are from the 1880s. The first boathouse for the city's rowing club was built in 1910 at North Park St. NW and Monroe Ave. It was located at the current site of the American Legion, in the North Park business district at the north end of Grand Rapids. Sadly, the stately boathouse burned down in the 1960s, and only the basement level remained.
The club rowed out of the remainder of the boathouse until 2002, when that facility was flooded during a major storm, and was subsequently condemned. The old remainder of the boathouse was finally demolished in 2005, and the club moved to its current location across the river, at 291 North Park Street behind Greenleaf Landscaping.
The club and its programs continued to operate out of a fenced-in area just south of Fifth Third ballpark, until July 2008, when the new Grand Rapids boathouse was finally constructed to a usable point. While the new boathouse does not yet have a hard-surfaced floor nor power, members have constructed a temporary system of racks, installed a generator, and the boathouse has proven to be more than adequate for the day-to-day needs of the organization.
The club is currently working to raise adequate funds to complete the boathouse, which will include floors, permanent lighting and plumbing, expanded workout facilities, and improved equipment for its rapidly growing membership.
Please contact a GRRA board member if you are interested in helping with fundraising... otherwise, we welcome members and their guests to enjoy our boathouse and the beautiful Grand River, as can only truly be experienced from a rowing shell!
Rowing association christens new boathouse, Grand Rapids Press, October 05, 2008